Isaiah 58 – You Do I Watch #2

Posted: September 8, 2011 in Isaiah 58

The thing about family disasters is that you never have to wait long before the next one puts the previous one into perspective.   Robert Brault

i am reminded of some things Ann Marie and i have learned about giving in the situations from yesterdays post. First and foremost giving is not an option. i do not get to check my finances and then decide if i am to give nor how much i am to give. my giving has always been in faith because after all if it is impossible to please God without faith, then everything i do must be inclusive of some element of faith.

As a steward of God’s money, i am responsible to exercise wisdom as i give. i don’t think i must donate to every need. i am not responsible to
help each one of the hundreds of ministries i may hear about. i pray for wisdom, and then make choices. Once i make choices, i don’t feel guilty or sinful if i throw away a letter soliciting funds, even if it’s for a worthy cause.

We pray for wisdom. We ask God for “knowledge and depth of insight” (Philippians 1:9).  We try to identify real needs.

We give a tithe to local churches. Then we consider giving extra offerings also. i pay for my groceries at the store where i got them not the store down the street.

We support Christian workers we know. Ann Marie and i feel a sense of confidence and excitement when we support the ministries of people we know personally.

We evaluate the need if we give to an individual. If we have a friend who is a single mother struggling to make ends meet, a helping hand may go a long way. On the other hand, if we have a friend who is living irresponsibly, bailing him or her out may be the worst thing we could do. Giving cash is not the best way to help a malnourished, alcoholic parent. Buying groceries or giving a meal would be wiser.

We give to local Christian relief organizations. Why reinvent the wheel. Ann Marie and I occasionally give money to people in financial trouble, we usually prefer to give to organizations, not individuals. Local shelters and feed-the-hungry programs have the experience and expertise to make sure the money is used in the best way.

If i become burned out, i must not become stingy. It’s likely someone will try to take advantage of us at one time or another. If this happens, we can’t let the experience stop us from aiding others. We pray for the person who misused the help, and ask God to help us be wiser in the future.

Give from a thankful heart. God is interested in my heart, not just my actions. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give,
not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Isaiah 58 – What I’m interested in seeing you do is:

being available to your own families. i was amazed to find the following information, yet i understand how it happens as i have been there. I’d like to think that i have been available to my family, but it’s not about what i’d like to think, it’s about what they think. But no doubt there have been times when life required me to be unavailable for some period of time.

George Barna, president and founder of Barna Research Group, commented: “While it may be alarming to discover that born again Christians are more
likely than others to experience a divorce, that pattern has been in place for quite some time. Even more disturbing, perhaps, is that when those individuals experience a divorce many of them feel their community of faith provides rejection rather than support and healing. But the research also raises questions regarding the effectiveness of how churches minister to families. The ultimate responsibility for a marriage belongs to the husband and wife, but the
high incidence of divorce within the Christian community challenges the idea that churches provide truly practical and life-changing support for
marriages.” According to the Dallas Morning News, a Dallas TX newspaper, the national study “raised eyebrows, sowed confusion, [and] even brought on a little holy anger.” This caused  George Barna to write a letter to his supporters, saying that he is standing by his data, even though it is upsetting. He said
that “We rarely find substantial differences” between the moral behavior of Christians and non-Christians. Barna Project Director Meg Flammang said: “We would love to be able to report that Christians are living very distinct lives and impacting the community, but … in the area of divorce rates they continue to be the same.” Both statements seem to be projecting the belief that conservative Christians and liberal Christians have the same divorce rate.

Dr. Tom Ellis, chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Council on the Family said that for “…born-again Christian couples who marry…in the church after having received premarital counseling…and attend church regularly and pray daily together…” experience only 1 divorce out of nearly 39,000 marriages or 0.00256 percent.

Here’s what that says to me, premarital counseling is important and i just recently viewed some material that i will require couples to view and discuss prior to me ever marrying anyone again. Secondly, i know Dr. Ellis said, church, but my opinion would be community. Community: a group of men or women leading a common life. Doing life together day-to-day and hour to hour if necessary. Lastly he says, “Pray together daily.”

Praying puts us at risk of getting involved in God’s conditions.  Be slow to pray.  Praying most often doesn’t get us what we want but what God wants, something quite at variance with what we conceive to be in our best interests.  – Eugene Peterson

i find it interesting that praying is a part of these statistics. Not that prayer makes a difference, that part i know, but that people would recognize it as a part of the success in their marriage, that does surprise me. “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in Heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them” Matthew 18:19,20 “Ask of Me, and I will answer your requests.”

i would have thought that spending time together would have rated higher than prayer. Go God!

So many times church comes before family and the results are… well dismal.

The other night I ate at a real nice family restaurant. Every table had an argument going. George Carlin

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